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When Social Media Goes Wrong

Social media is a fundamental element of any business marketing. We investigate when things go wrong and what to learn from it.



When Social Media Goes Wrong

Social media is a fundamental element of any business marketing. We investigate when things go wrong and what to learn from it.

Over the last decade, social media has become almost engrained in day-to-day life. The platforms give you the chance to learn a new recipe, participate in the latest ‘challenge’ or try to nail that new TikTok dance sequence.

Back in 2021, we got front row seats to the infamous Colin vs Cuthbert legal battle, a reaction to this cleverly handled by Aldi. But how can we make sure what is good content and when it can go wrong?

As businesses look to use a variety of approaches to push their products, raise awareness of their brand and reach their audiences, the expertise needs to be there to avoid any social media fails.

In this article we explore when social media has gone well and when it has gone… not so well.

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet – Tweets Gone Wrong

Burger King – International Women’s Day

Staying aware of your language in your social media posts is essential, and can cause to wider PR issues if not monitored. As was the case for Burger King on International Women’s Day.

Every year in March, individuals and businesses come together to nationally celebrate International Women’s Day. However, back in 2021, Burger King UK may not have completely thought through their campaign wording, choosing to name their campaign Women belong in the kitchen to raise awareness on gender diversity.

Whilst the good intentions where there, some could say the wording was not entirely thought through and it was quickly condemned by their target audience on social media.

Tesco – Horse Meat Scandal

It’s important for your business to keep an eye on current events and news when posting otherwise it can lead to inappropriate posts. For those who may remember the horse meat scandal back in 2013, Tesco sent a tweet around the same time as the breaking news, which should been swiftly removed from scheduling – “It’s sleepy time, so we’re off to hit the hay!”.

Dove – Transformation Campaign

It’s important to consider when developing creative for your social media campaigns the impression the content will have on your target audience. The Dove transformation tweet promoting their body lotion may still be remembered by some for completely disregarding this, with a black woman transforming into a white woman. The campaign was both perceived as offensive and criticised for the messaging making little sense. The backlash to the ad ultimately hurt their overall brand message around ‘real beauty’.

When Wrong Can be Right

However, following the ‘norm’ won’t always lead to social media success. There are some


Ryanair is notoriously known for how they handle their own mistakes , roast themselves (and others) and customer complaints to flip the narrative, which can help own up to your mistakes whilst also keeping in tune with customers. It is a risky one but done correctly could help your social media presence.


As mentioned earlier, the Cuthbert vs Colin court battle was cleverly handled by Aldi leading to #FreeCuthbert trending. It also led to other supermarkets to jump on the topic promoting their own caterpillar cakes in solidarity. Despite which team you supported, it can be agreed that it certainly made good content.

So what are the top tips to avoid a social media fail?

As discussed in our previous blog with award winning TikTok Agency – Nonsensical – there are several ways small and medium businesses can embrace social media. As Oli Hills mentions, “When it comes to social media for business, you really have to nail exactly who your audience is and where they spend their time.”  

Knowing your audience can help you know how they think, what their passions and interests are, and what their values are. Keeping an eye on current events that are currently in many of your customers mind can help you also be in tune with what they are thinking and connecting with them on this. Knowing when to provide a witty response to a trending issue, and when not to.

Want to improve your marketing skills? Find out how our growth services can give you access to upskilling workshops for you and your business.



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